I wrote this nine days ago assuming my previous blog would be off the front page within a week. That blog only came down today. And since then significant events have transpired which deserve yet another descriptive blog. Obama’s pyrrhic deal with Iran fell through, apparently due to France opposing it as weak (Kerry is still doing a diplomatic dance to limit damage to the administration). And just today the clear evidence of the fact that the vacuum created by (makes no difference whether “apparent” or “real” retreat) will, which should be clear even to those PhD advisors surrounding the president, be filled by Russia. And so, barely thirty years since the USSR was forced out of Egypt, Russia is only too happy to return, and finally achieve its centuries-long ambition of controlling the Mediterranean, and by extension, Europe.
America’s desired isolationism could not be more complete!
Why did America’s secretary of state make an unscheduled trip to the region this week? A crisis in the Palestinian peace process is one possibility, but that “process” seems unremarkable in its slow slog to nowhere even without American intervention. More likely his visit was in response to that Saudi brokered visit by Russia’s defense minister to Egypt. The amazingly swift rapprochement between Russia and Egypt after thirty years was, after all, an immediate response to Obama’s decision to punish the Egyptian generals for deposing Obama’s golden boy president, Morsi. The Russian general’s visit, principally intended to provide Russia a shopping list of military equipment desired by Egypt’s general, has one other component. Russia desires a naval base for its swiftly growing Mediterranean fleet. And the choices for that naval base are at both ends of the Suez Canal. And why would President Putin be considering a follow-up visit to Egypt if the general’s visit was unproductive? Clearly the writing is on the wall: America can’t expect to both leave and retain and protect its own and Europe’s interests in the region.
On Kerry’s arrival in Riyadh and Cairo the reception was reportedly cool and more telling, the customary joint press conference at the close of such meetings failed to take place. Secretary Kerry reportedly made closing remarks to a closed audience of local embassy staff. Even as recent events justify America’s loss of standing in the region, the present crisis has been long gestating.
“At virtually every stop in the Arab world, Mr. Cheney has been told that an American military strike would destabilize the region. The warnings have been made in news conferences, government statements and, in the case of Saudi Arabia, television interviews.”
According to the Times report the only place Cheney received a warm welcome was aboard a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Sea. And for the record, Israel also warned mirroring Saudi concerns the war would destabilize the region. Which, of course, it did.
“In a testy personal telephone call on Jan. 29, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah reportedly told President Obama not to humiliate Mubarak and warned that he would step in to bankroll Egypt if the U.S. withdrew its aid program, worth $1.5 billion annually.
“America’s closest ally in the Gulf made clear that the Egyptian president must be allowed to stay on to oversee the transition towards peaceful democracy and then leave with dignity.
“Mubarak and King Abdullah are not just allies, they are close friends, and the King is not about to see his friend cast aside and humiliated,” a senior source in the Saudi capital told The Times.”
As Bush regarding Iraq in 2002 chose to ignore advice from “allies” on the ground, so did Obama, first in May, 2008 regarding Iran during his White House meeting with Netanyahu, then in 2011 regarding Egypt. And Iraq destabilized the balance between Persia and the Arabs, and Egypt fed the fires of instability across the region, the so-called “Arab Spring.” And barely a month after deposing Egypt’s Mubarak in defiance of Arab and, again, Israeli, warnings Obama chose, again, to defy the Saudi king in yet another bizarre counter-productive intervention.
“The Obama administration and its support for democratic change in the Middle East has been on a collision course with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other traditional monarchies of the Persian Gulf.
“We don’t want Iran 14 miles off our coast, and that’s not going to happen,” said the Saudi official. U.S. officials counter that Iran, so far, has been only a minor player in the Bahrain protests and that Saudi military intervention could backfire by strengthening Iran’s hand.
“There is a serious breach” between the Gulf countries and Washington over the issue, warned a second Saudi official. “We’re not going in [to Bahrain] to shoot people, we’re going in to keep a system in place,” he said.
There are several possible explanations for what rationally seems irrational. Obama’s intervention in Bahrain: 1.is, as represented by the administration, the same time-worn excuse used by Carter deposing the Shah of Iran, 1976 and Bush in Iraq overthrowing Sadam, 2003: “providing democracy” for people without the social history and cultural background to make it work, or: 2. the felt need by an insecure Obama to teach the “locals” from Israel to Yemen just who’s in charge, or; 3. that those years of embarrassing dismissals by Iran in “negotiations” over its nuclear weapons program are actually part of an arcane and naïve striving for an accommodation with an uncooperative Iran allowing the US to withdraw from the region assured its interests remain unchallenged and intact. Number three would be consistent with the impossible-to-credit expectation regarding Bahrain that Iran would even agree share naval facilities at on the island that just happens to be regional US Navy headquarters and base of the US Fifth Fleet!
Were this the end of American “missteps” they alone would be sufficient to explain the ever-widening mistrust by America’s previously strong “allies.” But whether ignorant or disdainful of their concerns Obama overlooked past violence inspired by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (the assassination of Mubarak’s predecessor, Anwar Sadat; inspiration for al-Qaueda) and endorsed and supported that organization’s candidate for president. And when the new president dismissed the judiciary disrupting his plans to turn Egypt away from “democracy” and into a Sharia state returned Egypt to street demonstration where was the American president’s voice in defense of the defenseless demonstrators then? And when the demonstrators were attacked by Brotherhood counter-demonstrators and Morsi defied the military and was himself deposed Obama, unmindful of Egypt’s importance to American interests, demanded Morsi be returned to power, and decided to withhold military aid as “punishment.”
And then, what should shake confidence in the halls of the White House:
“Shortly before US Secretary of State John Kerry
landed in Jerusalem Tuesday night, Nov. 5, the Russian president’s office announced that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would pay a short working visit to Moscow on Nov. 20 for talks with President Vladimir Putin.”
Issues likely to be discusses would include Russia’s interest in participating in developing Israel’s off-shore natural gas fields; a proposal that Russia build the pipeline from those fields to Europe; and discussing a bipartisan approach to Iran. In recent articles I described a post-America Mediterranean Sea pressuring Europe away from the US, and towards Russian. Europe already depends on Russia for natural gas. A Russian pipeline from Israel to Europe would complete her domination not just of the Middle East, but also of Europe.
The one thing Obama might have done to at least retain a measure of dignity and credibility by friend and foe alike would have been to carry through a presidential threat to punish Assad. But even here, at the moment of truth, Obama stepped back.
“Red Line” or no, not even this commitment could the United States keep.
And so, mistrusted by all, relying on the very opponent who would replace the US, Obama fell back on Putin’s offer to “help” by providing the indecisive American an alternative to complete failure in decommissioning Assad’s chemical weapons. And when Putin recommended changing the venue for Syrian peace talks to Moscow, thereby reinforcing Russia over America as regional power Obama-the-weak agreed also to that:
“President Barack Obama gave way to Vladimir Putin’s arguments that Geneva II faced too many obstacles before it took off, whereas he could guarantee better results from Moscow. The Russian leader said he needed some space for putting the event together in his own capital and setting a date.”
Russia replacing America in Egypt; Putin replacing Obama in the region: whether retreat into Isolationism was established American policy from 2003 as appears likely, Putin and Russia have now outflanked America in the region, from Iran to Syria to Egypt and beyond. At last report (see header above!) Russian warships are patrolling as far west in the Mediterranean as Libya (and Italy).